Virginia State Health Board Puts Women’s Lives and Health at Risk by Lowing Abortion Standards

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 25, 2016   |   11:08AM   |   Richmond, VA

The Virginia State Board of Health weakened state abortion facility regulations on Monday in a move that abortion activists celebrated.

In 2011, the state adopted new abortion clinic regulations in the wake of the horrific discoveries at Kermit Gosnell’s abortion facility in Philadelphia. The regulations required abortion facilities to meet standards similar to ambulatory surgical facilities, submit to regular and unannounced inspections and more.

The regulations have helped to protect women and babies in Virginia from shoddy abortion practices, including those of notorious abortionist Steven Brigham. The late-term abortionist lost his license to practice in five states, faced criminal charges for killing late-term babies, employed a sex offender and allegedly injured several women. In April, Virginia authorities shut down Brigham’s Fairfax abortion facility after discovering filthy, dangerous conditions during an inspection.

However, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who received almost $1.5 million from the abortion industry in his election campaign, has made it a priority to water down the regulations, according to the Family Foundation of Virginia.

On Monday, the state board of health voted 11 to 4 to throw out the regulations requiring abortion facilities to meet ambulatory surgical facility standards. The members claimed the regulations were unconstitutional because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Texas law, The Washington Post reports.

NBC 12 in Virginia reports more:

The Virginia State Board of Health has amended that regulation, essentially saying an abortion clinic is more comparable to a dentist’s office that performs out-patient surgery or a doctor’s office that performs a colonoscopy. …

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From here, all of the amendments head to the executive review that ends with Governor McAuliffe’s signature. After that, there’s a 30-day public comment period, after which all of the amendments approved will go into place.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe called the move a “victory” for “the future of women’s health,” but others said the weakened regulations will hurt women in Virginia.

Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, blasted the governor for putting the abortion industry above women’s health and safety.

“Today, the $1 billion abortion industry got what it paid for; politically motivated protection from Terry McAuliffe,” Cobb said in a statement.

Because of the regulations, Cobb said state authorities found serious problems inside many Virginia abortion facilities, including bloody, unsterilized medical equipment, doctors and nurses not washing hands or re-gloving between patients, untrained and unaccountable staffing and hundreds of other deficiencies.

At the Richmond Medical Center for Women, inspectors found that staffers re-used old sponges for cleaning up, and at the Roanoke Medical Center for Women, they found red blood was splattered on patient room walls and on patient tables.

The original regulations include licensing and unannounced inspections of abortion centers.  They also required standards regarding medical personnel, such as requiring that the doctor remain on premises until a woman is actually ready to be discharged, improved sanitary conditions, and emergency equipment for cardiac arrest, seizure, respiratory distress and other critical medical situations.  Abortion centers also would have had to be built or improved within two years to standards similar to ambulatory surgical facilities.

The board left the unannounced inspection requirement in place, according to local news reports.

Cobb called the state board’s actions a “sham process” that violates Virginia laws about transparency and ethics for adopting regulations.

“While the Board is attempting to hide behind a radical interpretation of this year’s Supreme Court decision regarding abortion center safety and abortion industry talking points, any reasonable Virginian understands that when a Board tasked with health care safety votes to eliminate even the CDC’s minimum standards for infection control, its politics not health driving that decision,” Cobb said.

“The actions of the Board that violate state law and the Board’s disregard for the clear intent of the General Assembly have opened Virginia to costly litigation,” she continued.

Olivia Gans Turner, president of Virginia Society for Human Life, said the board’s actions were expected, given Gov. McAuliffe’s promises to the abortion industry. Turner said McAuliffe also appointed many of members of the state board of health.

Turner said the board’s actions will no longer require abortion facilities to comply with Centers for Disease Control infection prevention measures, certain fire codes and other common-sense safety measures.

“This means more cover for the abortionist, little protection for women, and no protection for unborn children,” Turner told LifeNews.

Despite the pro-abortion governor’s agenda, Turner said they will continue working to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in Virginia to protect unborn babies when strong scientific evidence indicates that they can feel pain.

“What pro-life have to continue to work toward are laws that don’t just aim to curtail unscrupulous behavior of abortion providers, but rather to make the practice of abortion illegal,” she added.